‘Documentary theatre’ it may be but the ‘theatre’ bit must still come first. The bum-numbing tedium of being bashed about the head by the heaviest of message sticks makes this one hard going. I Could Be You lacks stage-worthiness and is nearly all ‘tell’, not ‘show’. Characters are left on stage for great stretches of time with little to do, there are fewer scenes of interactions between them than there are monologues, and the scenes that do exist where characters have an effect on each other lack dynamism and suffer from amateur acting. The best performer, Shane Lee, has the smallest part. With some development this might work as an audio piece but in its current form it is much closer to a short story than theatre.
So often, when theme or issue drives a piece, a sense of engagement with an individual and their story is sacrificed. There is the germ of an interesting narrative with the Indian detainee who may or may not be paranoid and delusional, or with the migrant rights lawyer struggling with the limits of what she can achieve. If real, idiosyncratic characters can be extrapolated from these mouthpieces and their deeper stories developed, this piece might move towards being a play rather than a sermon. Then, too, the play’s presentation of the impact of prolonged incarceration on asylum seekers and their supporters (and our society at large) would become all the more powerful.
I Could Be You
Written and Directed by Hoa Pham
Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Dates: 23 Sep - 9 Oct 2010
Times: 8.30pm: 23rd, 24th, 25th Sept / 7.00pm: 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th Oct
Tickets: $25 Full / $20 Conc.
Bookings: 03 9534 3388